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Ste. Anne’s Spa surprise!!!

December 6, 2010

 The TV ads indicate that Disney World is the place where dreams come true.  Well, I can tell you from personal experience that if you head 90 minutes east on the 401 you will find a similar place for adults.   Now just to be clear, there are no rollercoasters or cotton candy here.   It’s a home away from home, only better.  

I was itching for a retreat that would include a little indulging, pampering and relaxation with Keith.  I knew that if we headed into the tiny town of Grafton, we would find the Disney World equivalent for those 25+ years old.  What I didn’t know was that this hump day – Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 – would be one of the most memorable days of my life.  

Let’s start from the beginning and build the suspense.

Keith and I ventured  to Ste. Anne’s Spa last winter and it just happened to be their very first snowfall for the year.  We fell in love with the place when we first walked through the gates and caught our first glimpse of the old stone-clad building freshly covered in snow.   The 2-day experience was memorable enough to get us back there again this year. 

I am on their last-minute mailing list and noticed that one of their suites was heavily discounted.   For $249 per person we each got 4 meals (breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner), one night’s accommodation in their East Suite, one wellness class plus a $90 spa discount.    Here’s a photo of our massive Victorian style suite with Keith taking in the view from the window.  What you can’t see is the fireplace to the right which we maximized while we were there.

The East Suite at Ste. Ane's Spa

Believe it or not, when we arrived at Ste. Anne’s this Wednesday the snow was falling yet again for the first time this year.   What are the chances?    It must have been a sign for what was to follow over the next 12 hours.  Here’s the view from our room.

There are a few things I LOVE about Ste Anne’s.  

  1. The breathtaking landscape (see above)
  2. The forced relaxation (there are no TVs and no cellphones permitted in common areas)
  3. The expectation that you wear a housecoat everywhere (even to dinner)
  4. The wellness classes (includes yoga, bosu ball, hiking for those of us who can’t sit still)
  5. The dining experience (the opportunity to sample as many dishes as you like, at any meal)

I will focus on the former – the edible benefits – since, well, this blog is all about me, myself and food.  At some point I will briefly divert from this topic for obvious reasons. 

Once Keith and I transferred into our plush white housecoats (which would be our spa attire for the next 24 hours) we headed out for our first scheduled meal around 3pm.  Afternoon tea.  As you can see, it is more than just “tea”.  Thank goodness.  We were intrigued by everything on the menu so we went with the Full Tea sampler which included rice paper rolls, smoked salmon wraps, mini cucumber cream cheese sandwich strips, crackers and dips along with Keith’s favourites, cookies and mini desserts.

Afternoon tea at Ste Anne's

I then escaped for my first treatment (Caribbean Foot Therapy) and returned for a few hours of lazying around our suite, reading in front of the fireplace while sipping wine.   Around 8pm we headed back into the dining area for our highly anticipated dinner. 

Starter:   Unfortunately for Keith, his garden salad wasn’t nothing more than a pile of lettuce leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers.  Nothing to write home about (although I seem to be writing about it now).  

Garden salad

I had the roasted vegetable salad which I pretended not to enjoy for Keith’s sake.

Amuse Bouche:  A mini melon medley with burst of goat cheese was a nice surprise and a great precursor to our main meals.  Here I am (in my housecoat) about to indulge in that little ball of naughty cheese.  As you will see I did away with the gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle for this experience.  And please dismiss the deshelved hair…it’s the product of my earlier head massage.
 Me with my amuse bouche

Main:  Keith had the local free range beef which was done to perfection.  I chose the spinach, pecan and feta stuffed chicken.   Both dishes were complimented by roasted beets and green bell peppers, as well as smashed root vegetables (which I’ll be honest, I wasn’t particularly fond of.  I would have preferred some green veggies).  Although I will give them this…Ste. Anne’s strives to use local and seasonal ingredients including locally raised cattle in their cuisine.   This would explain the focus on root vegetables as the side for all mains.  Anyhow, they earn extra points in my book for the emphasis on “locally raised and grown”.  

Round eye steak

In addition to the standard veggies, you can also choose another side.  Keith went for the shredded potatoes and I chose the mushroom broth (afterwards wishing I would have opted for the potatoes).

Stuffed chicken

Dessert:   Taking the server’s suggestion, Keith ordered the chocolate trio and I, the apple cinnamon souffle.   This time my choice was the dud.  Let’s just say that the souffle was delicately flavoured.  

Leaving this dinner on a mediocre note was not an option, so we ordered the two remaining desserts.   The coconut tart made everything better again giving us permission to retreat to our room feeling satisfied. 

Coconut Tart

Just when I thought the most memorable part of the day had passed (dining at a 4 star restaurant in our robes), something  much more memorable was about to transpire.  I never thought I would say this but, that something would top any dessert, on any menu, anywhere in the world.  

All I remember was Keith dropping down to one knee in front of me and my heart pounding at a thousand beats per minute.  He said a bunch of beautiful things (none of which I can distinctly recall except for his final words…WILL YOU MARRY ME?!).  Then placed this beautiful thing on my finger while I squeaked out the word “YES”. 


There you have it!   Walking into Ste. Anne’s Spa on Wednesday I was simply a girl looking to get away from the hustle and bustle with my boyfriend.   I had no clue that I would be even happier walking out, and of course did not expect to leave as  an engaged woman.  This distraction explains my lack of depth and descriptiveness in reviewing the meals above.  I was anxious to get to the highlight of my story. 

I no longer question the superstition that you’re destined to be married next if you catch the garter belt or bouquet at a wedding.  This  obviously has some truth to it in our case 😉  We were laughing when we came across this photo of us from our friend’s beautiful wedding (Amanda and Blair) when Keith caught the garter belt and I snagged the bouquet (some of the girls almost lost an eye in the process, but I caught it).   I should have known from Keith’s wily smile that he had something up his sleeve.

Ok, I will bring this back full circle and end this off on a “food” note.  The next morning everyone at Ste. Anne’s seemed to know that they had a newly engaged couple in their presence.  It might have been because I had asked them to extend my checkout beyond noon so I could catch a few more hours of sleep (I was so wired that night I only slept for 3 hours if that and looked exhausted).  I may not have successfully extending our stay however they did acknowledge our engagement over breakfast with a heart-shaped whole grain pancake, topped with cinnamon baked apples.  

Whole grain pancake (made with love)

I recommend you put Ste. Anne’s Spa on your wish list this Christmas.  You might not have exactly the same story to tell upon your return but you won’t be disappointed. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Adrian Raphael permalink
    December 6, 2010 5:48 pm


    • December 9, 2010 10:01 pm

      Thanks guys! We can’t wait to celebrate with you in person when you come “home”!


  1. Ste. Anne’s Spa surprise – continued…. « Me. Myself. And Food

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